Spring is finally here. It took its time… a long time. My first two springs in Switzerland arrived in a hurry, with very warm temperatures and sunny days. They looked more like early summer that was prolonged until well into autumn… Not this year. It seems that spring took it easy. After a sunny and “warm” winter in the mountains, it seemed as if spring never wanted to arrive. We’ve been wearing coat and scarf until very recently! Dark, grey and rainy days have been the norm these past weeks… And even the trick that worked for us the previous years (if it was cloudy in Zurich, we would look up the forecast of another valley where the sun was shinning…) wasn’t useful these past weeks. It’s been a bit boring and frustrating! Specially because I couldn’t do what I love most: hiking and taking photos…

Fortunately, it seems that this strange and cold spring is over. Sun is finally out! And even if there’s still snow in the mountains, the valleys are green and full of colorful wild flowers, cows are out of their sheds and their bells fill the air with music again… It feels like summer is not far now!!

At the beginning of May we had one of those very rare sunny days. Suddenly, sun was out after days without seeing it, and the forecast for the following days was also dark and cold. We didn’t think twice. We put on our hiking boots and jumped in our car. Destination: Gruyères! We drove to canton Fribourg, in the francophone part of Switzerland, ready to explore this region famous for its cheese. We started our hike in Val de Charmey, a little town close to Lac de Montsalvens. From there, we walked following the shore of the lake and through a beautiful forest until we reached the end of the lake. Then we followed the little river that flows from the lake through a small gorge and suddenly, a wonderful smell of chocolate inundated the air. We had arrived to Broc, home of Maison Cailler, the first Swiss chocolate factory founded in 1819. We didn’t stop at the factory (although I really wanted to do it!!! Hehehe) and continued walking in a green valley until we saw the majestic Gruyères castle on the top of a hill, dominating the little medieval town and all the landscape around it and with the snowy mountains behind. It is quite a sight! We explored the little 13th century castle, admiring its well-preserved beautiful rooms and gardens. And we ended our trip visiting the Maison du Gruyére, where we learnt all about the world famous cheese produced in this region.

Here are some photos I took that day. I hope you like them!

23 Comments

  1. Gruyéres is idyllic to say the least. Some of your photos looked like paintings. Hard to believe they are real scenes. Any hiking over difficult terrain is rewarded by the stunning scenery and the prospect of cheese!

  2. Oh and Winter has arrived here too. It always ceases to amaze me and then again not amaze me, that the seasons are diametrically opposite. When it is suddenly cold in the north, it is just as suddenly warm in the south….

    • mercedescatalan

      Thanks a million, Amanda!!! Gruyères is as idyllic as a fairy tale! And after all the rain and cold days, it looked as a magical valley, so green and full of wild flowers… Like out of a dream!! And yes, there’s no better reward after a hike than a tasty Swiss cheese… hehehe. During summer we usually go hiking with just bread and something for dessert… we know that along the trail (often in the middle of nowhere!) we’ll find a farm or a hofladen where we can buy cheese from the region. So we make a picnic with local mountain cheese (it’s way better than cheeses from the lowlands!!) before we continue our way 🙂 that’s always the best part of any hike!!
      I was thinking exactly the same… how strange it must be to read about spring or summer when you’re preparing for winter, hehehe. Is winter there as cold as here in Europe or milder??

      • Way milder here but we it does get down to 6 dehrees at night. 22 degrees in the day

      • It is much milder here in the sub tropics Mercedes. Up to 22 degrees C in the day and the coldest it here is 6 degrees at night. In Cairns and Darwin you only need a very light cardigan even on the coldest days

        • mercedescatalan

          That is super mild!! Hehehe Do trees turn golden and lose their leaves? With those temperatures everything stars blooming in Switzerland!! I don’t know if I could live in a place like that… I think the changing seasons, with the cold and heat and all the changes that they bring, is something that i somehow need… And I love it! In Ireland I miss the snow and the heat in summer… Spain is too extreme in summer. Now in Switzerland I have the perfect balance, with white winters and sunny summers 🙂

          • We have no golden trees up in the northern half of Australia, unless you are at high altitude. But yes down south, there are some golden trees, but they have been imported many years ago from Europe. Native trees are evergreen, not deciduous. We also have flowers blossoming all year round. Different ones at differing times. You could say we have two seasons: Wet and Dry. But it switches depending on whether you are in the tropical north or the temperate south. I think I am more suited to the south but I do like the sunny winter days here. Funny that I don’t think of Switzerland as the idyllic summer destination, but it does sound idyllic.

          • mercedescatalan

            But it is!! I didn’t believe it when I arrived two years ago… but it’s incredible how Switzerland transforms in summer. In Ticino, the south, has a great Mediterranean vibe! And here in the north, the lakes get warm enough to have a very pleasant swim in hot days… I even think I like more the Zurich lake than the freezing Atlantic ocean in south Spain!!!
            Uuummm does the wet season get very… wet??? I don’t like that kind of weather, specially after living in Ireland… hehehe

          • It IS wet in the wet season, in fact, monsoonal rains occur up in the far north. We have tropical thunderstorms with very heavy deluges and rainy weeks if there is a cyclonic weather system lurking in the Pacific ocean, (off the coast). It is very humid and sticky during the day and everyone enjoys the storm as a break from the intense humidity. But the stirms are elwctrical and can be destructive and cayse flooding.The smell of the earth after the ration is really glorious. Have you ever smelt that, Mercedes?

          • mercedescatalan

            I think I experienced this wet climate when I was on my honeymoon in Bali… so hot, so humid that everything felt very sticky indeed!!! I loved Bali, but it was too hot and humid for me… and yes, the evening storms were most than welcomed!! Hehehe. Mmmm I love that smell!!! Specially when I’m in Spain during summer… it gets very hot there, scorching! And it’s very rare when it rains in summer… but when it does, the rain smell that you can even feel before the first drops fall… that it’s one of the best things in life!! Hehehe

          • I can see you understand what I mean, Mercedes, and yes, the summers are like Bali, possibly a few degrees cooler, but the humidity is just as bad. Not easy for a person as they gets older. It never used to bother me when I was a young person. I now prefer the dry heat of summer, as one gets in Melbourne or Tasmania.

  3. What, no chocolate!! As always, beautiful images. I love seeing the small villages and old towns. Spring is finally here also–just in time for summer! I was ready for sunshine and the heat it brings. Anything would be better than the dampness and perpetual dark skies. My favorite in this post is the village scene. Just simply great!

    • mercedescatalan

      Thanks a mil, Anne! So happy you like the photos!! 🙂
      Yes, these little villages are quite magical! Gruyères has all the charming of authentic medieval villages… so well preserved, with the magnificent castle dominating all the landscape and the Alps so close… it looks like out of a dream! It was very pretty in spring, but now I want to visit the region again in autumn with golden tones all around!
      Ah, the chocolate… we didn’t have enough time to visit the chocolate factory, the castle and the Maison du Gruyère… and my husband is more fan of cheese than chocolate, so for once I let him win, hahaha. But you wouldn’t believe how magical it was walking through the forest while the most amazing milk chocolate smell surrounded us!! I wouldn’t have been surprised if we found a caramel house in the middle of the forest, hehehe. It was a dreamy day!
      And yes, we had a terrible spring, but since last week it seems like summer has arrived!! Now it’s all light and blue skies and warm… or heat! Suddenly it’s super warm here in Zurich! Soon it will be “barbacue by the lake followed by a swim in the lake” season!! Yeeiii!! 🙂

  4. Maravillosas fotografías, desde luego que bonita es Suiza en todos sus cantones tienen peculiaridades y tú en la fotografía lo dejas plasmado.
    Enhorabuena y sigue siempre con la misma ilusión, eres estupenda

    • mercedescatalan

      Mil gracias, María! Qué ilusión que te hayan gustado! La verdad es que sí, puedes pensar que Suiza es todo montañas nevadas, prados verdes y vacas… pero cada cantón tiene algo que lo hace único! Suiza es un país pequeño pero con una variedad cultural y de paisajes enorme! 🙂

  5. Isaac Albarran Garcia

    Como siempre preciosas fotos Mer.

  6. So picturesque! I guess you chose the best time to visit this charming little town. The weather is perfect 🙂

    • mercedescatalan

      Thanks a lot, Len! We were very lucky that day… the days before and after that trip, were simply horrible!! Rainy and cold… In general, if it’s raining in Zurich, we checked the forecast and choose a neighbor valley where the sun is shinning… the weather is so different in each valley!!! But this spring this trick just didn’t work… We knew that that day was unique, so we just knew we had to spend it outdoors!! 🙂 And yes, it was perfect: warm but not too hot and sunny!! Not the best conditions for photography, but perfect for us! Hehehe
      The whole region of Gruyéres feels like out of a fairy tale… the medieval village, the castle on top of a hill, the mountains, the cows with their bells, the smell of chocolate… it’s just too idyllic to be real!! Hehehe. If you ever visit Switzerland, make sure to include a visit to Gruyères! It’s very pretty and not too crowded!! 🙂

      • Lush green pasture, snow-capped mountains and a castle on the hill. Gruyères is exactly what I imagine about Switzerland. The castle looks similar to Chillon Castle, but its position is far more impressive 🙂

        • mercedescatalan

          I haven’t been in Chillon yet, but I’ve seen photos from the castle. It looks also so pretty!!! Like the castles of Spiez or Iseltwald in the lakes near Interlaken… Gruyéres doesn’t have a lake, but I love how fairy-tale like looks with the mountains behind… specially when I took the photo, where you can still see the transition between seasons: the green and full of wild flowers lowland, the castle and the snowy mountain behind 🙂

          • Don’t forget the clouds hanging on the mountains 🙂 I think they makes your photos incredible!

          • mercedescatalan

            Ah, the clouds… a Spanish photographer told me once that I only go hiking (or on a trip) on sunny days, and that those days are the worst for photography. I think he was right… My favorite photos are always the ones with some clouds on it… or a lot! I like to take photos on moody days!! The clouds add so much to any landscape!! But I told him that I go out whatever the weather (except rain and wind, I don’t like that combination)!! Hehehe

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